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Cybersecurity training course aims to help meet the growing job demand

Help is wanted in the cybersecurity field — and not just on the board of directors.

As computer hacking grows more pervasive, so does the demand at all levels for workers skilled in the field. And where there's a demand, there's a start-up looking to meet it.

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Cybrary is an online cybersecurity training website that launched in January, and already, the company said, 150,000 people have participated.

Like many start-ups, Cybrary aims to fill a market gap with a better, quicker and cheaper service. For now, its courses are free to individuals. Businesses pay a few thousand dollars a month for access to specialized courses. About two dozen businesses and schools have subscribed.

One is N2grate, a data center management firm in Washington, D.C. Using Cybrary is expected to drop the small firm's training costs to $15,000 this year from $50,000, according to N2grate President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Halligan.

"It's a fascinating transformation of the corporate training market," he said.

Classroom training was inconvenient and expensive, he said. Now classes can be taken on the fly. Recently, on-demand materials proved valuable when his team quickly had to learn about mobile security issues for a Department of Justice project. Niche courses from a provider such as the SANS Institute might be held only a few times a year and only in certain regions.

Ryan Corey, a Cybrary co-founder, taught cybersecurity in classrooms for 13 years and was unimpressed with the cost and quality of alternative online offerings. He had no doubt there was a market for his idea if he could pull it off.

Heavily hacked industries — retail, finance and healthcare among them — doubled cybersecurity hiring over the last five years. Security gigs stay unfilled for 8% longer than other technology jobs and pay $6,500 more annually, according to job-market data firm Burning Glass Technologies.

Corey saw an opportunity to both sharpen cybersecurity workers' skills and train new workers with Cybrary, which is based in Maryland.

"We're going to empower the entire world to learn cybersecurity and prepare themselves for the threats that are out there," Corey said with an entrepreneur's enthusiasm. "For beginning professionals, for high-end professionals."

Someone who starts with a basic course on how computers work could confidently apply to a beginner-level job after taking about six courses and spending up to 40 hours on each, Corey said.

After giving the site a try, Paco Hope, principal consultant at software security firm Cigital, said the courses can also be used to prep for certification tests.

He likes the price. Except at the highest levels, cybersecurity techniques are "largely understood and agreed across the industry, so if someone wants to make it available free, that's fine," he said.

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